The beautiful fall days are great for getting outside and enjoying the colours. Windsor is beautiful this time of year, but as it starts to rain and get colder I’m finding more time to read. This month, your friends at WPL have gone through some pretty excellent reads and as always we are happy to share. Especially now that we are seeing snow, we’re in a great time of year to relax and read before we hit the hubbub of the holidays. So read on and find out what we at WPL are staying warm with this month.
From Pulitzer Prize winning author Marilynne Robinson, comes her new book Lila, as the third in her ‘Gilead’ series. Although this is the third book in the series, it is the first one that I have read, and as they are not written as a direct continuation, they can be read out of order, and still thoroughly enjoyed that way. Set in Depression-era Indiana, the book follows the story of Lila, a young homeless woman, who finds her way to a new life as the wife of a minster in the small town of Gilead. It is a beautifully written literary novel that explores Lila’s early struggles as a drifter. She was saved by Doll, an inspirational character who proves to be a protective and nurturing force in Lila’s life, and remains as lasting figure years after she is gone. The book also deals with Lila’s constant struggle of bridging the life and people she used to live with, to her new Christian life with the tender and caring minister John Ames. Anyone looking for a very character-driven novel, that deals with thought-provoking themes, will find that Lila is a brilliantly written novel that is sure to impress and leave a long lasting impression on the reader.
The streets of northern Ontario can be as grim and bleak as anything out of a Stephen King book when described by the right person. Pyper does a great job exploring a mystery that goes to the core of a town in Lost Girls.
About a lawyer who is working to defend a man accused of a double murder, Pyper has some great characters which keeps you turning pages. The story is fascinating on several layers. The main character deals with being in a place he doesn’t want to be, which is full of people who don’t want him to be there, as myth and horror combine. The murder mystery draws you in, and is used as a catalyst to explore the larger prejudices and experiences of small town Ontario. Moving beyond a John Grisham style legal thriller, Pyper uses personal struggle, addiction, bias, and great character evolution to speak of the interconnected nature of a horrific event and a town’s ethos.
(Warning: spoilers about earlier Bridget Jones stories)
I was initially apprehensive about Helen Fielding’s latest entry to the Bridget Jones canon. Fans of the series may know that Mark Darcy has been killed off since the previous installment and it took me some time to forgive Fielding and pick up the book; this is not a spoiler as it’s revealed almost immediately and the spectre of Mark Darcy looms large over Bridget’s life with her young children. Once I forgave Fielding for this literacy murder I found the book immensely rewarding and uproariously funny. By aging Bridget, this new book gives her an opportunity to explore technology. I loved Bridget’s foray into texting – particularly with a new romantic interest made possible by the absence of Darcy — and Twitter and this book was classic Bridget and had me laughing out loud on more than one occasion.
“A Chinese Life” is ostensibly an autobiography of a simple, everyday person who happened to grow up in the most tumultuous era in modern Chinese history. This story, however, is so much more. It not only depicts the ups and downs of this individual’s life, but also reflects the flow and sentiments shared by millions throughout the period of the People’s Republic of China and all in graphic novel format. That is a sizable accomplishment considering the story spans over seven decades and indeed, the book clocks in at 700 pages.
What struck me most about the work, other than the stylistic way it was penned, was the viewpoint of the central storyteller. Very often works about the Communist Party of China and the Mao era in particular are critical of the policies and the government. Instead, this work helps the reader understand how someone could and would support the Party even to this day. That almost sounds dry and political, but it doesn’t read that way. The artist’s life is full of personal passions, friends and stories: some touching, some saddening and some hilarious.
Anyone interested in foreign cultures and China in particular, should take a peek at this slice of autobiographical life: it’s substantial enough to give you moments of contemplation, but light enough to ensure you don’t want to put it down.
Consumed by David Cronenberg (2014)
Making his debut as a novelist this year is the acclaimed Canadian film maker David Cronenberg. While having directed over twenty films, Cronenberg admitted in a CBC interview that his childhood ambition was not to be a movie-maker, but was actually to become a novelist. This shouldn’t be too shocking to those familiar with the director’s work: in interviews he has cited authors like Kafka and Nabokov as major influences for his movies and has created a number of film adaptations of literary works, including Don DeLillo’s Cosmopolis, J.G. Ballard’s Crash, and William S. Burrough’s Naked Lunch.
Not only does Cronenberg’s novel, Consumed, fit comfortably alongside the works of his literary influences, it also fits in well with his body of cinematic work. Consumed shares many of the recurring motifs of the director’s films: psychological storytelling, examinations of technological fetishism, and Cronenberg’s infamous exploration of body horror. The novel follows the narratives of Naomi and Nathan, a reporter couple who are working on seemingly unrelated stories: Naomi following a lead to France about a philosopher who has cannibalized his wife, and Nathan examining the questionable medical practices of a Hungarian surgeon. As the novel progresses, it slowly becomes apparent how connected these cases actually are, and the couple soon find themselves embroiled in a web of conspiracy which spirals into a horrific climax. A disturbing work by one of film’s leading masters of skin-crawling discomfort,Consumed is not only a fully realized novel, but proof that Cronenberg is as powerful a storyteller in the written medium as he is in cinema.
The story of an remarkable dog who is rescued by an airman, and their adventures together during the war.